The Most Important Rules of Managing a Remote Team
Today’s workplace is changing rapidly. A Gallup survey shows that the number of people working out of the office is increasing and they’re doing so for longer periods of time. Employees are pushing for a change in well-established structures and policies that work for the traditional office format.
Remote work certainly provides excellent opportunities for everybody involved, but managing remote employees comes with its specifics. If you are considering the switch and you haven’t come up with a detailed remote employee policy yet, the following guide will come in handy.
Define Expectations in Advance
After hiring remote employees, you will find it more difficult to check in on a regular basis like you would in the case of an office-based team. This is the main reason why expectations and work practices have to be defined and explained clearly in advance.
Goals, timelines, accountability tools, payment schedules, and communication expectations should all be discussed at the beginning of project execution. Giving the remote team access to all of the required communication/project management tools is also going to be imperative.
When defining expectations, you should also make it clear that employees will be held accountable for failures, missed deadlines, and other shortcomings pertaining to the initial expectations.
Do Coaching and Schedule Regular Video Conferences
Keeping a remote team engaged can be very difficult. This is why regular communication is going to play a crucial role in all processes. Regular video chats (whether team-based or on a one-on-one basis) will help you build an emotional connection – one of the essentials for managing remote employees.
If possible, you should also invest time in coaching. Good managers are also seen as mentors. It’s up to you to pass relevant knowledge to members of the team. Pursuing other educational opportunities that will boost worker qualifications is also going to benefit everyone involved.
Handle the Legal Issues of Having a Remote Team
A good remote employee policy should address the legal specifics stemming from this format.
For a start, you should focus on the privacy and the security of all communication occurring between remote team members. You need to have a strong security policy in place because many data breaches are the result of human error.
Other legal specifics you’ll need to address
- Following the right regulations pertaining to minimum wage, payday frequency, paycheck delivery, etc.
- Overtime calculations
- Whether international employee laws are going to apply
- Whether health and safety training will have to occur as a part of the remote onboarding process
- Following hiring and anti-discrimination laws
Provide Constant Feedback
A lot of the cues and sources of information available in the office will be missing in a virtual environment. As a manager, you have to provide feedback consistently and on a regular basis. If something is not working, it is up to you to address it as soon as possible. Waiting will only make the issue more pronounced.
Make sure that the entire team knows the frequency of feedback provision. If possible, communicate information about progress and shortcomings in person. Creating detailed performance reports is a good thing and you can certainly send such information via email. The personal provision of praise or constructive criticism, however, will be invaluable for building a team and making remote workers feel a part of it.